With floppy ears, a speckled snout, and a winning smile, Jason looks like the picture of piggy bliss.
Just five months ago, this special swine was living on an illegal farm in Loxahatchee, awaiting his turn to (potentially) be boiled alive. In October 2015, he was rescued in a famous raid. Richard Couto, of Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), went undercover on three illegal farms in Palm Beach County for five months. He says workers boiled pigs alive, dragged a cow behind a truck, and slaughtered horses for meat. When police raided the farm, they found 400 pigs (766 animals total). All of the pigs had contagious diseases… all except Jason.
According to Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control (ACC) director Dianne Sauve, her agency helped take care of animals after the raid. She says that despite the pigs' illnesses, the Department of Agriculture actually recommended that they be sent to slaughter — ultimately to be used for food. She and her team refused.
“I believe it is philosophically unethical for us to remove farm animals from a life of squalor and suffering, only to send to slaughter,” she explains. “All of the animals had health issues and diseases. I was astounded to learn that you could still send diseased pigs to slaughter for human consumption. And even though they can be legally slaughtered and consumed, I refused to send diseased and stressed animals for human consumption on my watch.”
The other pigs were euthanized, but they met a peaceful end; no one will be eating them. Jason, however, is going strong.
Dubbed the “Miracle Pig” by animal control staff, Jason was thin and nervous when he first came to live at PBC ACC, Sauve says. “These animals had been witness to the slaughter of countless animals. As a result, they were leery of humans.”
Luckily, Jason has overcome his disturbing past and has blossomed into a happy, healthy pig.
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“He was named after one of his caregivers – Jason Cree,” she says of his moniker. “Both have red hair and are good-hearted. Jason loves human interaction, and although he is in solitary quarantine, he is delighted when his human friends visit. It’s amazing how he has put aside all the horrors that he may have witnessed and has come to trust a species intent on butchering him.” One volunteer, Jolene Shapiro, comes to visit Jason every day.
Pigs are renowned for being inquisitive, sensitive, and intelligent — so cognitively complex, in fact, that they’re often compared to dogs, primates, and even small children.
Jason is still living at animal control, but after one more round of medical testing, he’ll be cleared to live out his life in pig heaven, otherwise known as Rooterville Sanctuary in Melrose, Florida. He’ll join more than 300 other rescued animal “ambassadors” including other pigs, cows, turkeys, chickens, goats, horses, and honeybees.
“I don’t think there has ever been a good time in history to be a pig, but Jason lucked out,” says Sauve. “I really believe that angels walk among us. And in this case, it’s a plain, red pig named Jason.”